Open source – open spectrum?

I haven’t blogged much lately. This entry is a cross-post from my work’s blog.

There was recently an interesting opinion to open up Wifi specs at BusinessWeek. Those ideas come close to what some call as Open Spectrum. Technically the idea is to open up more frequencies out of state control and give users more control for what they can do with their communication devices (through configuring their own software radio to alter the signal strength, frequency etc.).

At first sight this sounds like a straightforward application of the principles of open source: create a wireless commons and let the users innovate us the needed technical infrastructure. Only if it would work that way.

First, there are technical hurdles (such as interferences, unreliability, misuse possibilities). Second, there is the great wall of regulation: if my little iTrip is illegal in Europe at the moment, I’d be sceptical to see something like WiMax as free as Wifi anytime soon… Third, there is the problem of business propositions… which actually isn’t a problem but the main driver, which may make open spectrum a reality sooner than we think. Just think of all the start-ups once again challenging industry giants such as handset manufacturers and telecom operators. Would it be any different from the dot-com era? I really don’t know, but I’d sure like to see it happen!

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